On more than one occasion, I’ve been dissed or emailed or insulted by people who, closing their minds and opening their web browsers, decide they can happily dismiss and reflexively vilify me just because I, on occasion, happen to agree with a guy (or a gal) they can write off as a neocon kook. You know — as if the world is divided into good and evil, as if they have the exclusive right to decide which is which, and as if that stance is not in direct violation of the ideals they, by supporting Senator Obama, claim to espouse.
And yet those sorts of do-as-we-say-not-as-we-do sorts of hypocrisies these days abound in Camp Obama, as Mr. Krauthammer — who is, I think, wrong about many things but still right about these (see how easy that is, kids? just a simple, substantive, case-by-case judgment; that’s a new kind of rhetorical politics you really ought to try sometime) — neatly observes: (Teacher. Wordsmith. Madman.)
O poor, maltreated blogger! For whom it is a necessary labor to judge Barack Obama savagely, compulsively, uncritically and exclusively on the basis of an association with a pastor — but to take the author’s own professional associations into any consideration of his work? How cruel, how unfair!
Someone was saying something about hypocrisy?
Because one important thing changed: [Rev. Wright] had the (what’s that word again?) audacity to insult Senator Obama. To question his sincerity. To suggest that he was just playing politics. In other words, as they say in those bad movie trailers: This time, it’s personal.
I suspect that, as much as the National Press Club
bully loony pulpit, was the reason for the change of heart. And the sudden willingness to disown someone he once said he could no more disown than his own grandmother. Combine those two factors, mix in a newly energized press corps that, in the middle of a surprising but almost certainly inevitable course-correction, has finally decided to draw some fresh blood from Senator Breath of Fresh Air, and you get what we saw and heard but did not quite buy in North Carolina this week.
So much for unity. So much for a new kind of politics.
Well, there is another explanation.
It could be that everything having to do with Rev. Wright, and everything having to do with Sen. Obama’s descriptions of his posture towards Rev. Wright, is and has been so obviously remote from anything even tangentially related to the future of our nation or the selection of its president, that the two individuals are content to hold a partially scripted falling-out for your benefit, to say whatever words are necessary to comfort their respective audiences, and move forward.
(Unless you really think Sen. Obama hates America and is a one-man sleeper cell. In which case, we have no option but to write you off as unpersuadable.)
Which brings us to the confusion of many about “a new kind of politics.” As far as we can tell, Obama’s new politics basically consists of:
1. No stupid or personal attacks on opponents
2. No stupid public policy because it sounds good
Now, given that for most politicians this simple code of conduct must seem astoundingly angelic, it is no surprise that for them, every instance of an issue-based attack, every cleverly-framed argument, and every (perish the thought) public relations adjustment from Team Obama will be considered a betrayal of revelatory proportions, to be met with HAHAHAHAHA YOU’RE A HYPOCRITE!, thereby completing the Catch 22 with HAHAHAHA YOU’RE NOT TOUGH GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN!
However, in reality, we are learning that even in the 21st century, sometimes the only defense against a barrage of hogwash is a little more hogwash.
Because that’s what it was, and is.
The Comet does not, and has never purported to, support Sen. Obama’s candidacy because we expect him to magically unite the country and bring about a new kind of politics. As far back as we can remember, every presidential, gubernatorial, mayoral and dog catchorial candidate has attempted to escalate the drama and import of their candidacy just a wee bit. We’re not going to hold it against Barack because he’s good at it.
The Comet supports Sen. Obama because we want government subsidized health care, fair taxation of the wealthy, sustainable environmental regulations and a swift conclusion to our unconscionable military adventuring — the very same reasons we also support Sen. Clinton to a degree.
The difference is, if Obama can pull off a victory in the manner in which he is attempting — by staying focused on issues, eschewing personal attacks, rejecting false machismo and remaining a proud educated intellectual who is not somehow at odds with common folk — then he may actually usher in a period where sincerity and seriousness come into fashion.
It will not last forever — but in the interval, pundits and political advisers will warn their charges ominously, “Isn’t this like the gas tax holiday all over again?” “Isn’t this like voting for the Iraq War when you know it’s wrong?” “Isn’t this like obsessing over Rev. Wright for months on end, just to keep voters alarmed and distracted?”
As long as Obama can keep it going, the hogwash will be seen to fail and so will be utilized less, and we will all be the better for it.
That is our rationale for whom we support and why. If it pains our friend Mr. Hermann that others are defining him unfairly, he can always choose to put forth his own politics in a similarly affirmative fashion.